Fatou Bensouda speaks at a news conference in Abidjan.

2011 Reuters Limited

In this age of austerity, the nearly 27 percent budget boost requested by the International Criminal Court (ICC) for its prosecutor’s office leaps out. It’s the clearest sign yet of fresh thinking coming out of the office’s new leadership.

The ICC released an advance version of its budget request for 2014 last week. The Office of the Prosecutor – whose new prosecutor started in June 2012 – said the funding would be used, in part, to grow the size of its investigation teams and invest in new technologies.

The request will be debated by the ICC’s 122 member countries, who foot the bill for the court, and the budget will be finalized in November.

Given that the court’s big payers – like Germany and Japan – have in the past insisted that the court hold down growth altogether, it remains to be seen how states will react. In a separate report, the court, which overall is seeking a 9.5 percent increase in funding, has warned that if it doesn’t get more resources in 2014, it will be forced to shut down the equivalent of activities in two or three countries.

It’s the thinking behind the prosecution’s request that may matter as much as the figures.

According to the document, the office has concluded that its model of rotating small teams of investigators between cases is not effective in digging up the evidence judges want. This comes on the back of recent setbacks, including an acquittal last December in only the second ICC case to reach a verdict.

In the past we raised concerns that the office simply didn’t have the staff it needed to conduct investigations.

The office’s task is – to put it mildly – daunting, and resources are certainly not the only issue. But the office’s candid assessment that change is needed is perhaps the biggest sign yet of its new leadership.